For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q107

The writer of Ecclesiastes ends his treatise with this conclusion: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: ‘Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man’” (Ecc. 12:13). Like bookends, the first and last questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism state a similar theme for all that lies between them. We have learned what our chief end is (WSC Q1), and now we come to the conclusion of the catechism in the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.”
That very last word, Amen, deserves special comment. The dictionary defines it this way: “used to express solemn ratification (as of an expression of faith) or hearty approval (as of an assertion).” There is in this one word agreement with all that has preceded it, and even the idea of an oath of commitment. Words have meaning, both by definition and implication as they are lived out in our daily life. The very material of our being is to his glory, for truly to him alone be the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. As we approach this final study, we must pray to the end that this, and all that has preceded it in 106 questions and answers, may be a constant reality and “amen” breathed into our every thought, word, and deed. And to that, all God’s people vow in saying, “Amen!”
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WSC Q107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A.   The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only[a], and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him[b]; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.[c]
[a] Dan. 9:4, 7-9, 16-19; Luke 18:1, 7-8
[b] IChron. 29:10-13; I Tim. 1:17; Rev. 5:11-13
[c] ICor. 14:16; Rev. 22:20
Question 107 asks what the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teaches us, and answers that the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer (for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever) teaches us to be encouraged only by God in our prayers, and to praise him by acknowledging that kingdom, power, and glory are his. To show that we want to be heard and have confidence that we are, we say, Amen.
Comments and considerations:
We begin with the end of this catechism answer, the meaning of Amen. The word is nearly a transliteration from Hebrew, Greek, and other ancient languages; it is almost universal in its pronunciation, and also in its meaning. It denotes “concurrence in belief” or “assent or final word.” We know that God has written eternity upon our hearts (Ecc. 3:11), and that we undeniably know the truth, though we may suppress it in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). It makes sense that people of every language would share an Amen, imprinted upon our thoughts and speech, an Amen that signifies faith and trust beyond ourselves. For that is really what Amen means.
As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable… It is equivalent to “truly,” “verily.” It is used to denote: concurrence in belief, or in a statement; assent; the final word or act; Christ as being one who is true and faithful (Webster’s 1828 & 1913 Dictionaries).
Paul writes, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (II Cor. 1:20). Notice here, the double emphatic as it relates to the promises of our covenant-keeping God: Yes and Amen. The Greek Amen carries with it the meaning of “trustworthy; surety; so be it.” The verbal adjective means “firm, faithful,” and the adverbial sense is “asserted or confirmed.”
Why spend so much time focusing on a single word? Because, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). Our whole life and calling is to be a breathing and walking Amen, asserting and confirming the trustworthinesssurety, and so be it of the kingdom, power, and glory of our God. John wrote in his gospel (21:25), “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” And yet the testimony remains and continues to manifest itself in the lives of God’s covenant-keeping people, for we “are [the apostles’] epistle…, known and read by all men; clearly [we] are an epistle of Christ, ... written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (II Cor. 3:2-3), that we might show forth his praise, honor, and glory until his return. To this end, we pray, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen. It is this for which we were made and given dominion (Gen. 1:26, 28); this is our chief end (WSC Q1); for this we are to strive and pray.
Once again, it is good to look at some of the Scriptures to see what passages our fathers used to shape this instruction.
Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said: “Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. “Now therefore, our God, We thank You and praise Your glorious name” (I Chr. 29:10-13).
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1Tim. 1:17).
And finally, the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only.
We have looked at this word encouragement before (see WSC Q105). Now, how should we emboldened, comforted, cheered, strengthened, en-heartened, and take confidence in prayer from God only? The answer ought to be obvious by now; if not, study the previous 106 catechism questions as a reminder! Or open your Bible and consider what caught our fathers’ attention in Dan. 9:4, 7-9, 16-19, and Luke 18:1, 7-8. Here’s but a taste:
And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments...” (Dan. 9:4).
We can take our encouragement in prayer from God only because he is a covenant-keeping God, “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24KJV).
Furthermore:
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, ...And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1, 7-8)
As we close our catechism instruction, we take comfort in knowing that God is ever open; he always invites and loves the prayers of his people. We are also reminded that we are called unto his purposes and glory, for we are not our own. Being comforted thus, we are also challenged to consider, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” In retrospect, that is a really good question, especially as it is the Lord of glory who asks it. It is not a rhetorical question, but one that commands an answer from each of us; we will each one day give an account and be judged. As we have learned that faith is not just what we believe, but what we do, it is sobering to consider whether we will in fact hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25: 14ff), spoken by our Lord at the judgment seat of Christ. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2).
Thus we are encouraged to pray to our Savior from the depth of our being, “Sanctify [us] through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17 KJV).
To God alone be the glory!
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.           According to Dan. 9:18, why can God’s people can be confident when they pray?
2.           In addition, thinking about the very nature and character of God encourages us to come to our Father in prayer. What are some reasons for this as described in Eph. 3:20-21 and Matt. 7:7-11?
3.           In what way are we instructed to bring our petitions and prayers to God in Phil. 4:5-7 and II Chron. 29:10-13?
4.           When we pray, “Amen,” we are saying, “Let it be so,” or, “It shall be so.” What then does this little word mean to us and to our God as he listens to our prayers? Consider the account of Hannah’s distress in I Sam. 1, and especially the conclusion of this incident in I Sam. 1:17-18.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q107 and WLC Q196
WSC Q107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer teach us?
A.  The conclusion of the Lord's Prayer, which is,For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen.teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only[a], and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him[b]; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.[c]
[a]  Dan. 9:4, 7-9, 16-19; Luke 18:1, 7-8
[b   IChron. 29:10-13; ITim. 1:17; Rev. 5:11-13
[c]  ICor. 14:16; Rev. 22:20
WLC Q196. What doth the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer teach us?
A.  The conclusion of the Lord's Prayer, (which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen[a].) teacheth us to enforce our petitions with arguments[b], which are to be taken, not from any worthiness in ourselves, or in any other creature, but from God[c]; and with our prayers to join praises[d], ascribing to God alone eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency[e]; in regard whereof, as he is able and willing to help us[f], so we by faith are emboldened to plead with him that he would[g], and quietly to rely upon him, that he will fulfil our requests[h]. And, to testify this our desire and assurance, we say, Amen[i].
[a]   Mat. 6:13
[b]   Rom. 15:30
[c]   Dan. 9:4, 7-9, 16-19
[d]   Phil. 4:6
[e]   1Chro. 29:10-13
[f]   Eph. 3:20-21; Luke 11:13
[g]   2Chro. 20:6, 11
[h]  2Chro. 14:11
Question(s) for further study:

How does the Larger Catechism commence in instructing us regarding our approach to God in prayer and help us as to know how we are to take our encouragement in prayer from God only as stated in the Shorter? What does the Larger Catechism tell us that we may be emboldened to plead with him …that he will fulfil our requests?  

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